On the next episode, screening 21 May 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:


A Bit of a Dag


When Hobbit fans arrive at Lake Pukaki, where part of “Battle of the Five Armies” was shot, they are in for an entertaining time.

Owner of the farm Ian Hayman, who hosts the tours, is a raconteur with a sense of humour.  Dressed in bright floral shirt and trousers with matching tie and trilby hat, Ian shares a bit of the history of Tasman Downs Station and tells amusing stories of the month-long mayhem of the film shoot that Ian calls “the highlight of my life”.

He realized the scale of the event when one day a convoy of one hundred and thirty huge lorries arrived to set up – a travelling circus. On shoot days 650 people including Sir Peter Jackson and star Orlando Bloom would be milling around. The fans are treated to a viewing of Ian’s men’s shoe collection and get to meet Robert, a rather good-looking mannequin who tends to pop up in unusual situations.

But Ian is also a real farmer raising beef steers on his gently rolling hill country farm. Tasman Downs has been in the Hayman family since 1915 – over a century. Ian reckons his great-grandfather was stitched up by the vendors who sold it to him. “The previous owners window-dressed the place by bringing in a flock of Romneys” he explains. “They’re lowland sheep breed that doesn’t like harsh conditions and most of them died that first winter.”

Lake Pukaki sits in the shadow of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps. Temperatures can get down to minus 20 degrees. “Great-Grandad put a manager on it for four years and then in 1919 he said to my grandfather Jack, ‘go up and look after that God-forsaken place until you can sell it.’ Granddad Jack never did sell it, and then my father came back from WWII and he took it over.”

Ian’s father Bruce Hayman, flew Wellington bombers in the RAF during the War.  He miraculously survived a crash in Italy, with badly broken legs, a dangling finger and facial injuries. Bruce dragged himself away from the plane and cut off his finger with a pocket knife, but was trapped there up to his neck in snow for two days till found by the Sicilian Mafia who’d come to loot the plane.

After two years in a British hospital and countless operations, he returned on sticks to take over Tasman Downs. Ian says “stock work used to give his leg the most grief. Sheep would kick it and then it would weep and get ulcers on it. It didn’t have much circulation it would get infected and he’d have to rest up. He was always in pain. But he battled on with it from 1945 right through to 1993 before he got it amputated.”

Hardened by the war, Bruce would get into another scrap in 1976 when the Ministry of Works decided to raise Lake Pukaki for the second time. When they raised it to build a Hydro power scheme in 1952, the Haymans lost a quarter of their already small farm. The average station is this area is 25,000 acres and Tasman Downs shrank from 2000 acres to 1600. In 1976 Bruce and wife Linda noticed some men putting in pegs close to their house. On confronting them, Bruce was told the Lake was going to be raised again and he’d have to find somewhere else to live. Bruce had fought for his country and he wasn’t going to be treated in such a cavalier fashion.

With the bull-dozers at his boundary, he dragged a caravan down and blocked their path. Bruce set up the kids – Ian and sister Jane - in the caravan doing their correspondence lessons and he sat in front with a shotgun across his lap. The stand-off hit the headlines: ‘MOW held off in six day siege’. In the settlement, Bruce received some money to rebuild his house on higher ground but lost another quarter of his farm.

Naturally Bruce has always been a hero to his son. Ian says “Dad was a great role model for me. I’ll never be able to be who he was, of course, but how he got through tricky situations was quite incredible.”


For more about Lord of the Rings & Hobbit tours, visit:http://www.redcarpet-tours.com/





Dan Henry


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